Nick Fairley: Gain a wake-up call

ByMichael Rothstein ESPN logo
Wednesday, August 20, 2014

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Nick Fairley's weight is creeping up again.

In his first public comments since the Detroit Lions demoted the defensive tackle from his starting role to a spot on the second team, Fairley said his eating habits again became an issue over the first few weeks of training camp.

He entered camp at 308 pounds. He says he now weighs 315 pounds.

"Things got not out of control, but I would say my eating habits got out of the way in the last two weeks," Fairley said. "That's all."

Fairley's consistency -- both with his play and his weight -- have been a concern for the Lions since he was selected with the 13th overall pick in the 2011 draft. His athleticism is what initially attracted Detroit to Fairley, and it is that athleticism that keeps the Lions pushing him to find both a good weight and consistency on the field.

Both his coaches and teammates want him to reach his potential.

"I'm always going to encourage Nick," Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh said. "I always want him to be the best player he can be. I haven't said this a lot or to many people, more or less, but Nick is more athletically gifted than me and he has an opportunity to be better than me and that's what I want to see out of him."

Fairley said hearing Suh say that "feels great."

General manager Martin Mayhew declined Fairley's fifth-year option during the offseason in hopes that it would motivate Fairley, who then showed up for spring workouts under 300 pounds. At the start of training camp, Fairley was at 305, which coach Jim Caldwell said was within the range he wanted.

Fairley said Wednesday that his ideal weight is 305 pounds.

"That's part of our job," defensive coordinator Teryl Austin said. "Our job is to try and get our guys to play well no matter what it takes. Not everybody is going to be a guy that's a self-starter, work over the top all the time. There's different ways that you have to motivate guys and get them going and that's part of our job to figure out: 'Hey, what makes a guy tick? What's going to help him play well?'

"So we're doing whatever we can to try and do that. We feel the guy's super talented. He's a good guy and we just want him to play at an elite level and play great. That's what we're working toward and I think he's on track now."

Austin said Fairley has improved since the demotion.

Fairley reiterated Wednesday his desire to stay in Detroit beyond this season, but his future with the Lions may hinge on his performance. He said the defensive line was supportive of him after his demotion and that C.J. Mosley passing him on the depth chart caught his attention.

"I would say it was (a wake-up call)," Fairley said. "Yeah."

Fairley's plan now is to try and win back the starting job before the season opener against the New York Giants on Sept. 8.

"Things happen. It happened to me," Fairley said. "Just got to go and move forward and just keep pushing forward."

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